Christie's tried in New York with a 1983 piece by Jean-Michel Basquiat and didn't succeed. The auction house may have been too aggressive in estimating the 16-foot piece at $9 million. That's what's tough about the art market right now. There are signs of recovery, and it can be tempting to push for higher prices. Unfortunately, it's easy to get a bit excited. The painting had the highest estimate at the auction. The piece with the second highest presale estimate, a piece by Andy Warhol, met a similar fate.
The Basquiat piece, "Brother Sausage," was offered anonymously by a buyer later revealed by Bloomberg News to be Peter Brant, an art collector based in Connecticut. The piece may be a casualty of his divorce from model Stephanie Seymour. Well, it won't be financing post-marital discord and could remain a contested asset for a while.
Yet, some works beat the odds in an auction that raked in $74.2 million, within the presale range of $61.5 million to $88 million. Nonetheless, this was the lowest result we've seen from a Christie's New York contemporary art effort since May 2003 and down 81 percent from the top of the market two and a half years ago.